Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup Expands Eligibility for Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna Vaccine Booster Shots to All 18 and Older

Booster doses sustain protection against COVID-19, especially for individuals at higher risk for hospitalization, severe illness

SACRAMENTO – The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup today completed its review of the federal process and has recommended expanding Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna booster dose eligibility to all individuals 18 or older who have completed their primary vaccination series. Individuals who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines should receive a booster dose after at least six months. Individuals who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine should receive a booster dose two months after their first shot. The Workgroup provided its confirmation to the Governors of California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington today.

The Workgroup concurred with FDA and CDC recommendations for booster doses:

  • All individuals ages 50 years and older or residing in a long-term care facility should receive a booster.
  • All individuals ages 18-49 years may receive a booster.

Because unvaccinated individuals remain at much higher risk of COVID-19 than those who have been vaccinated, the Workgroup continued to strongly support vaccination against COVID-19 for everyone 5 years of age and older.

On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized expanding booster shot eligibility for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, and the CDC affirmed that decision. The Workgroup reviewed and affirmed the federal decisions in meetings Friday evening and Saturday morning.

Washington, Oregon and Nevada joined California’s COVID-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup in October of last year. The workgroup, made up of nationally-acclaimed scientists with expertise in immunization and public health, has concurrently and independently reviewed the FDA’s actions related to COVID-19 vaccines. It will continue to evaluate other COVID-19 vaccines as they go through the federal process.

Statement from California Governor Gavin Newsom:

“As we approach the winter season and another potential surge, it’s critical that people get their booster to strengthen their immunity and protect themselves from COVID-19 – today’s federal announcement is critical to these efforts. It’s simple, all adults who are vaccinated need to go out and get their booster, period.”

Statement from Oregon Governor Kate Brown: 

“Starting today, every adult who wants a booster will be able to get one. Vaccines are our pathway out of this pandemic. I’m committed to ensuring our most vulnerable Oregonians are protected from COVID-19, and ensuring equitable access to boosters and the extra layer of protection they provide. If you still have questions about getting vaccinated, call your doctor or health care provider today to get your questions answered.”

Statement from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak:

COVID-19 boosters provide additional protection for Nevadans ahead of the holiday season. Boosters – along with ensuring we have first, second and pediatric doses available – will help prevent cases, hospitalizations and deaths. I am deeply appreciative of the Western States workgroup for their continued work. I encourage all Nevadans to get their COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible.”

Statement from Washington Governor Jay Inslee:

“Broad eligibility for COVID boosters is good news for Washington state. This additional level of protection will help reduce cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” Gov. Jay Inslee, Washington said. “I thank the Western States workgroup for their ongoing review and analysis of COVID vaccinations. I am glad that any Washingtonians who want a booster shot will now have access to them, and receive additional protection going into winter and the holiday season.”